This post contains affiliate links. Shizen Travel may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on this site at no additional cost to you. Find more details here.
Whether you’ve traveled alone countless times or are considering your first trip, Tokyo is one of the best solo travel destinations in the world.
At first thought, it may seem overwhelming or counterintuitive to choose a massive metropolis of millions of people to travel alone. However, it is precisely because Tokyo is so full that it makes a wonderful solo travel spot.
Tokyo is incredibly safe, has thousands of restaurants and shops, offers easy access to incredible nature, and draws people from all around the world from different walks of life.
Over the years, I explored Tokyo on my own many times and still find it my favorite place to explore by myself. I know which activities and restaurants are best saved for solo exploration and I want to share my tips with you.
In this guide, I’ll share my top recommendations for how to have an amazing solo trip in Tokyo.
Planning an extended solo trip? Read my guide on How To Plan A Gap Year In Japan.
Travel Solo In Tokyo
Why Travel Solo In Tokyo
When you travel alone, you may weigh a few factors more heavily than when you travel with other people. I predominantly evaluate the below criteria when I take solo trips:
- Language barrier
- Abundance of activities
Safety is always top of mind for me when I travel by myself. Violent crime rates in Tokyo are very low and since there are always so many people walking around the city, I feel safe walking around alone at all hours.
That said, it is always prudent to be careful when you travel alone. Some basic safety tips I advise are:
- Tell someone you know the address of where you stay
- Purchase travel insurance (I recommend EKTA as an inexpensive option)
- Always carry at least ¥5,000 of emergency cash on you in case you have issues withdrawing money or need to pay for something unexpectedly
- Be cautious about the level of details you share about yourself with strangers
Tokyo is one of the safest major cities in the world and is a great choice for first-time or experienced solo travelers.
It is very common in Tokyo to see locals and foreigners navigating the city alone.
Many aspects of the culture are suited for individuals. For example, restaurants often have seating arrangements for parties of one and Japanese people, while friendly, tend to stay out of strangers’ business.
If you have any anxieties about potentially being judged for traveling alone, I assure you that Tokyo is one of the most accommodating cities in the world for solo travelers.
Japanese is the official language of Japan. However, Tokyo is the most multilingual city in the country and you can comfortably get by if you speak English, or, increasingly, Korean or Chinese.
Most public signs are written in at least Japanese and English. Signage at major transportation hubs are often translated in multiple languages.
Over the past few decades, a growing number of Japanese people can speak conversational English. You can expect staff at major tourist destinations (such as key landmarks or popular hotels and restaurants) to speak at least basic English.
All that said, you will be relegated to superficial interactions if you don’t speak any Japanese. I suggest memorizing a few basic Japanese phrases to prepare for your solo trip.
Thanks to Tokyo’s robust public transportation infrastructure and the aid of Google Maps, Tokyo is surprisingly easy to navigate for such a large city.
Especially for a solo traveler, taking a taxi can be expensive. Most people, myself included, use buses, trains, and subways when in Tokyo. I recommend obtaining and preloading with money an IC Card (transportation card) to allow for quick ticket purchases. Tokyo’s main IC Card brands are Suica and Pasmo. You can buy these cards at Japan’s international airports or at major metro stations.
Tokyo has two international airports: Haneda Airport and Narita International Airport. Haneda is closer to central Tokyo than Narita, so I recommend flying in and out of Haneda instead of Narita if possible.
|Haneda to Shibuya
|Narita to Shibuya
Abundance of activities
Particularly when I travel alone, it is very important to me that my destination offers enough things to do. If I’m with another person, it is easier to pass the time without as much external stimulation. I find that when I’m by myself, I prefer visiting places that have an abundance of activities that interest me.
Tokyo literally has something for everyone. No matter your interest, I guarantee that you can find a store, restaurant, business, park, museum, temple, or natural wonder that suits you. You can spend months exploring the city and still find new things to discover.
Where To Stay
When I travel solo, I feel safer and more comfortable staying in a central neighborhood. I don’t need to worry about using public transportation or finding a taxi, can easily find restaurants, and have a higher chance of meeting people if I’d like.
I have an in-depth guide to the best neighborhoods to stay in Tokyo, but I will share a few specific accommodation options below that I think are well-suited for solo travelers.
Tokyo has no shortage of hotels to pick from, but some are better for solo travelers than others.
A great budget-friendly hotel option that I have stayed at before is Comfort Inn Roppongi. While the rooms are small (this is Tokyo, after all!), the hotel is clean and very conveniently located. Roppongi is one of Tokyo’s livelier neighborhoods and is a popular nightlife area with Japanese and expats. Especially for a single traveler, this hotel has the basic necessities.
For a more indulgent solo stay, I suggest The Westin Tokyo. This hotel is located right behind the trendy Yebisu Garden Place shopping center, which has several restaurants and shops that are perfect to explore on your own. The Westin Tokyo sits in Ebisu, one of Tokyo’s most desirable neighborhoods. I have an in-depth guide to the best luxury hotels in Tokyo, but I particularly recommend The Westin Tokyo because of its convenient yet quiet location. The hotel also offers many amenities that are easy to take advantage of by yourself, including a large hotel gym. I have stayed at this hotel before and hope to visit it again.
Normally, I recommend staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn) while visiting Japan. However, many ryokans don’t allow single travelers because they charge rates by person, not by room.
If you plan to stay in Tokyo for over a month, I suggest booking a furnished apartment. Companies that I or my friends have had good experiences with are:
Through these companies, you can either book a private apartment or a room in a shared apartment setting.
Particularly when traveling alone, I find it enjoyable to travel slowly and spend a long time in one place. This allows me more time to meet locals or other travelers and feel comfortable in my surroundings.
Tip: Once, I wanted to stay in Tokyo for 2 weeks. I found that booking a room in a shared apartment for one month was cheaper than booking a hotel for 14 days.
I booked a room with MetroResidences for a month, but only ended up using it for the 2 weeks that I needed it. Note that unlike for a hotel, you will need to pay a security deposit for these monthly apartments (in my case, I received my full deposit back).
What To Do
Travel at your own pace
One of the main benefits of solo travel is that you can set your own pace to do exactly what you want to do. If you feel like walking everywhere, you can. If you don’t want to visit a single museum, you don’t have to. If you want to spend an hour shopping at a single store in Shibuya, go right ahead.
I have a few resources available that you can use as starting points to design your dream itinerary:
- How To Spend Five Days in Tokyo (5 Day Itinerary)
- Tokyo neighborhood guides (my favorite neighborhoods to wander are Ebisu, Omotesando, and Shimokitazawa)
- Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets: Tokyo Off The Beaten Path
Joining a workout class is one of my favorite ways to feel connected to a community when traveling. You can use my list of favorite workout classes in Tokyo as inspiration.
If you’re open to striking up a conversation with a stranger, I’ve found that workout classes are some of the best places to meet new people in Tokyo. Everyone in the class has at least a degree of similar interests and shared the class experience together. Even if you don’t make a new friend, working out in a group will surround you with like-minded people as you travel alone.
Tip: MeetUp is very popular in Tokyo. Dozens of events (workout-related and otherwise) are held every day throughout the city. I suggest looking for MeetUp events during the dates that you visit Tokyo to find an activity you’d like to try.
I’ve joined hikes through MeetUp in the past. Many of the other attendees were traveling in Japan for a few weeks or months and were very open to making new friends.
Many MeetUp events are free or inexpensive to join.
Escape the crowds and take a day trip out of Tokyo. When traveling with other people, sometimes it can be difficult to rally and organize everyone well enough to leave the city. I love how when I travel alone, I can decide exactly when I want to leave and where I want to go.
Some of my favorite day trips from Tokyo include:
- Kamakura, a lovely beach town just an hour south of Shibuya
- Hakone, a popular mountain town with views of Mount Fuji
- Kawagoe, a criminally underrated city with Edo Period architecture
If you’d like to follow a guide and structured itinerary, consider joining a group tour. You can either join a group for the entirety of your trip to Japan (I’ve traveled with G Adventures to other countries before and had good experiences) or join a group just for a few hours.
Some short group tours that look interesting to me are:
Where To Eat
It is very common to eat at a restaurant alone in Japan. Many casual restaurants and cafes have tables specifically designed for solo diners and no one will bat an eye to see someone seated alone.
I have several articles listing my favorite restaurants in Tokyo that you can reference:
- The 15 Best Coffee Shops and Cafes in Tokyo
- Best Sushi Restaurants In Tokyo | Restaurant Guide
- Where To Find The Best Ice Cream In Tokyo
- The Best Restaurants In Shibuya You Should Be Booking
I also have a public Google Map listing all of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Many of these restaurants are great for solo travelers, but if you’re unsure, generally cafes or ramen, curry, udon, and soba restaurants are safe bets to comfortably dine alone.